The process of going to a foreign country is apparently a disruptive one. The clinic where i got my jabs spent a good couple of minutes explaining to me that I might have a number of serious reactions to culture shock, including depression and anorexia. There was a pamphlet on it which i thought i should read- in the way that you always end up plumping for the extended warranty because you can imagine the day you will curse your own shortsightedness. The pamphlet scared the hell out of me. Although there seems to be nothing one can do about any of the dangers. Except one would imagine never leave your house.A thing that excites and worries me in equal measure about going alone to a new place is what I will discover about myself.
There is something about travelling abroad alone that inherently forces self examination. In fact there are a lot of things; obviously there’s the time alone, the silences where the gentle murmur of company would usually be. But also there is the constant chance of self reinvention- the lack of witnesses to actions, to manners of being. No one here knows me. The man who sat next to me on the plane asked me what I did. A theatre director. What’s that actual mean then, he replied. In my answering him I was unbound. I did not have to answer as I would before colleagues, before friends. I answered him in a way with phrases that I never had used before. The answer was easy, easier than usual, with nothing at stake but perhaps more honest- lost in the skies somewhere above Romania in the ears of a man who I will never meet again. We understand our place in our worlds- or at least most of us do. That place helps define ourselves- it makes it easier to get through the day, because so many of our small choices are in some way made for us. I am the sort of person who ordinarily does this, or that.
But travelling alone that world changes and as a result so our niche within it.
Or put much more simply- there isn’t an ordinarily when travelling alone to a new part of the world. I am on my way to India- more specifically Kolkata and West Bengal- as part of the Hindustan EGG Interactive Village project being run out of Liverpool by a man called Lotfi Kaabi.
It is my job to create a narrative that will hold the architecture of the village and the digital art contained within together in some sort of unified experience.
It was recently revealed that the village will contain no performers. The audience will navigate the experience themselves, alone- the narrative there to guide them as a performer might in the type of shows I normally make. Ordinarily.
It is an interesting problem. Firstly the idea of sharing a culture with an audience is something I’ve been thinking about a great deal- fearful of the pitfalls of condescension, romanticisation or just being a bit shit.
Naturally I’ve been thinking a lot about what the final thing will be, and do. The people of Liverpool will navigate a digital village placed in the middle of Liverpool. They will move around a little piece of Bengal, or the digitalisation of a little piece of Bengal. They will move around on their own. They will navigate this foreign little part of Liverpool. And I wonder how they are meant to feel. Or rather I am interested to discover how close must the sensation of moving around the interactive digital village for an audience be to this sensation of travelling alone. Of moving through a new space in which they/I must examine afresh my/their place in it. And I wonder- I hope my trip will tell me- what the story is, the narrative, the experience by which moving through the digital village allows the audience to learn as much about themselves as they do about India. Dubai Airport